Friday, August 29, 2014

4 Years

Today marks Mr. J and I's fourth wedding anniversary. I remember being so proud that we made it through the first year. Such an accomplishment in today's society. And now it is like I blinked and here we are four years later. 

Is it possible to be the exactly the same but so different as well?  I know we have grown and changed as individuals but he is still my best friend and the person I would rather be around more than anyone else. 

We don't have any plans for today. It was a long week at work and even though I just woke up I am exhausted. We might even have hot dogs for dinner. Gasp!  So much for my idea of recreating our wedding cake to celebrate. 

The plan is to head into the city and spend the day exploring new areas and getting some good eats.  

Our gift is going to be new appliances for the house. Appliances are the modern gift for your fourth anniversary. Lucky for us hopefully we will score a deal with the Labor Day sales. Fruit and flowers are the traditional gift. We might just pick up a few of those as well.

I hope you have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Cinnamon and Sugar Almonds {SRC}

This month for the Secret Recipe Club I was given Oh! You Cook!  Dena is a librarian. You have to love her. I go to the library at least once a week to get my book fix.  She also is a published author with her The Everything Kosher Slow Cooker Cookbook. I am impressed. 

I have been living off of almonds lately and this sweetened Cinnamon and Sugar Almond recipe had me all excited.  She had plenty of other wonderful recipes though from sweet treats to savory dinners

These almonds made the whole house smell wonderful. I made the mistake of making them about an hour before dinner. Not only was I immediately ravenous  to eat before dinner but I ended up munching away on these and spoiled my supper. Almonds for dinner isn't the worst thing.

Thanks Dena for the great recipe. I am thinking of making these again around the holiday for little food gifts.

Cinnamon and Sugar Almonds

by Emily Morris
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Keywords: bake snack Christmas
Ingredients (2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg white, room temperature
  • 1 tsp cold water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 oz. unsalted whole almonds
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place a silicon baking mat on a rimmed baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Set both aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, use electric mixer to beat egg white until a stiff peak forms. Add the water and vanilla; beat again until a stiff peak again forms.
Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in almonds. After almonds are evenly coated with egg whites, fold in cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Pour the almonds onto prepared baking sheet, spreading them out into a single layer.
Bake for an hour, stirring and flipping almonds every 15 minutes.
Almonds are done when the coating looks dry and if you pick up an almond the coating is not sticky but hard and crunchy. Cool completely. Store in a tightly closed container for up to a few days at room temperature, or in the fridge for up to a week.
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A week in Boston and WIAW

In case you couldn't get it from the title, I am in Boston for the week. Thank goodness I got in a green smoothie before leaving. It has been nonstop eating since.

I am staying at a Doubletree so of course I got a yummy warm chocolate chip cookie while checking it.  You have to love it. 

The first night out we went Italian in Brookline at Pomodoro.  The Caesar salad was good and the Bolognese was amazing. 

At lunch we switched things up and had some Tex Mex food. I had a chicken enchilada.

And the table split some nachos. Sometimes I forget that sitting in meetings all afternoon is not the time to have a big lunch.

We lucked out this week and got to enjoy restaurant week in Boston.  We headed into Back Bay and ate at City Table.  I had to get the salad for the first course to make sure I was eating enough veggies for the day and then ordered the Steak Frites and chocolate cake. 

It was so much food but so, so good.  The chocolate cake got me all excited for my upcoming birthday.  More cake!

What is your favorite lunch out?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sprinkle Sugar Cookies

Chewy sugar cookies packed full of sprinkles!

This weekend we attending a neighborhood block party. Along with some peanut butter brownies I brought these sugar cookies. 

Party = Cookies = Sprinkles. 

It seemed like a perfect fit.

The cookies come together easily and there is no need to refrigerate the dough. This was ideal for me on Saturday as I only had a couple of hours to make these cookies before the party.  The only tricky part is making sure you stay near the oven as they bake. The cookies don't take long and go from good to burnt in a matter of seconds.  

I love all sorts of cookies but for those who don't these are great cookies for the picky eaters.  They aren't too sweet and don't have too many conflicting flavors. 

And if you have new neighbors to win over, these cookies hit the mark for me. 

Sprinkle Sugar Cookies

by Emily Morris
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12-15 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert cookie
Ingredients (36 cookies)
  • 2 cups (10 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup rainbow sprinkles
Preheat the oven to 350˚F and prepare baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk briefly to combine and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and both sugars. Mix on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.

Add in the egg and vanilla and blend until combined.

Mix in the dry ingredients with the on low speed just until incorporated. Fold in the rainbow sprinkles with a spatula.

Scoop the dough into balls, about 1½ to 2 tablespoons each. Space them evenly on the baking sheets about 2 inches apart.

Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until the cookies are just set and the edges are barely browned, about 12-15 minutes.

Let cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
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Monday, August 18, 2014

Crispy Almond Butter Bites

Crispy almond butter bites are packed full of good for you grains and protein. Perfect for a back to school or work energy boost. 

Happy Monday!! 

This week is going to be super busy for me. I will be jumping from one place to the next, having all sorts of meetings and hopefully checking a bunch of the to do list.   In order to brace myself for what is to come I thought I would make some little snacks to give me an extra burst of energy. We can all use a some help in that area once in a while right?

These crispy almond butter bites came together so easy. You throw everything in a bowl and mix.  There is a bit of wait time while the mixture chills in the fridge before you make the balls but they were ready in no time. Three cheers for no bake.

 I thought these would be all mine but Mr. J had a few right after they were done and loved them.  He liked the extra crunch of the rice cereal.

I made these to get me through the work week but they would be great for all those kiddos going back to school. 

Crispy Almond Butter Bites

by Emily Morris
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour chill time
Keywords: snack coconut oatmeal Almond Butter
Ingredients (Makes 12-15 balls)
  • 1 cup (dry) oatmeal
  • 2/3 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1 cup rice cereal
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Place all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir until thoroughly mixed.

Cover and set in the refrigerator for half an hour until chilled.

Remove from the refrigerator and roll into balls about 1" in diameter pressing firmly so the balls form. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated. They last for up to 1 week.
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Sunday, August 17, 2014

A little bit of nothing and a whole lot of everything

After a month of jammed packed weekends we didn't have much planned for this one.  I was totally looking forward to doing nothing. Somehow things ended up being more hectic than planned but it was a good thing.

Friday night we didn't have much food in the house and we were both exhausted from the week. I claimed it Date Night and off we went to our favorite restaurant.  We both got salads, entrees and shared a dessert. It was pretty darn good. 

The only activity we had was a neighborhood block party. This was our first in the new house and I knew we had to attend even though Mr. J and I are the most unsocial people ever. If we could live in a cave we would.  Regardless we muster up as much energy as we could and headed on over. We brought loves of sweet treats.  We ended up meeting a ton of people and having a great time.  Hopefully this will become an annual tradition. 

After our fun filled afternoon we were beat.  We ended up making burrito bowls and eating in front of the T.V.  Mr. J went all out and made an awesome flank steak as our meat. Not quite Chipotle but pretty darn close. 

In other news we ended up finishing the front door. It looks as good as we hoped. Plus we had several neighbors comment at the party that they loved it.  Good thing too. The process nearly had me in tears but that is a story for another day. 

I hope you had a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lately in Maine

This last weekend Mr. J and I went on our last summer adventure.  We were up in Maine visiting family and I crossed off several things from the Summer Bucket List. It was the perfect summer weekend with sunny skies and cool temperatures. 

Friday night started off in Portland with dinner at JP's.  I had a lovely seasonal grilled asparagus salad. And then a massive Bourbon steak.

We work up early for breakfast the next morning. We headed over to Hot Suppa!.  This is a tiny little place but we were lucky enough to snag a table before it got too busy.   Mr. J and my dad got the biscuits and gravy.

I got the egg sandwich on an everything bagel and a side of hash browns. I love crispy hash browns.  

I was told the waffles were a must so we got one for the table. It was way too much food but somehow we managed. It was all super good. 

Next up for the day was a beautiful farmer's market. It ended up being way bigger than expected. Everything was gorgeous!  I couldn't believe all of the varieties available between the stands. So many peppers and tomatoes to pick from. 

Before lunch we also hit up an art festival in South Portland. It was cool to walk around and see the different artist medium and styles. Unfortunately I am a big fan of oil paintings and the ones I liked the most were also the most expensive.  Someday!

Lunch was at one of my most favorite spots in Maine, the Lobster Shack. It is a bit touristy but look at that view. I love it!  We used to come here every summer with my grandpa and grandma. I always get the lobster roll no mayo. And I so enjoy my crinkle fries!

And no summer visit to Maine is complete without some ice cream. We ended up with Coffee Oreo and Mocha Chip.  

All in all it was the perfect Maine weekend getaway.  

Do you have any last minute summer plans before school starts back up?

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Quick House Tour

We have lived in the house just under a year. I have been meaning to post more about the house and the projects we have done but there is always just one more thing.  I kind of got over the house never being 100% but then there is the whole clean factor. There is always some spot that just shouldn't be shared. 

I was recently visiting relatives though that haven't seen the house and they insisted I bring some photos.  Since I had them around I thought I would share them with you all.  Here is the front. We got a new front door recently because the original wood one got a huge crack this winter. We are working on painting it yellow.  

Our two car garage sits under the house. 

Around the back we have a huge screened in porch but no deck. We are thinking about putting in a patio and grill area to the right.  

We haven't done too much with the yard except put in a garden.  We weren't sure how it would do since the yard is so shaded. 

It wasn't a complete failure but as you can see we are not bursting at the seams either. We get a handful of tomatoes every so often. We also planted peppers and basil. Its enough but we might reassess next year.   

Here is a view from the other side of the yard. We just over an acre but half of it is woods. 

This is the view from the front door. You can go directly up the stairs or straight to the back of the house. 

The stairs were covered in the most disgusting carpet when we moved it. We removed the carpet and had the wood refinished. I still want to fill the nail holes on the back paneling and paint all the trim white. We have a lot of trim so I haven't been motivated to start. Right now everything is off white. 

To the right of the front door is what we refer to as the pink room. It was bright pink when we bought the house.  We have since painted it brown (Sparrow by BM)

it is a huge open space and we aren't sure what we are going to do with it just yet. I hope to someday have an office portion and get better furniture in it. 

To the left of the front door is the formal dining room. We don't use it too much just yet. This had wall paper which we removed and then painted the walls a light blue. I really hate the light fixture. I want to replace that with something more modern and then get a carpet and some wall decor.  

The other side looks out to the street. We have a mini bar cart going on over there too. You can see we like to pile stuff up in this room.

Here is the back hallway. We have a coat closet, the kitchen pantry and the stairs to the basement from here. 

There is also a little nook to the left that houses a half bath and the door to the screened in porch.

The other direction of the back hallway opens to the kitchen.  I could write all day about our plans for the kitchen.  Definitely a work in progress. 

Just to the left of the kitchen opens into the living room. We spend about 99% of time here and in the kitchen when we are not sleeping.

Here is the other direction. Mr. J is insistent that we need a bigger TV to fill the space. We put in the overhead fan. You can kind of see in this picture that we are in the process of putting in new windows throughout the house. We have 2 in and 24 to go.  Plus all of the trim to do. 

Looking to the back of the house you can see our eat in area of the kitchen. 

Here is a view towards the other side of the house.

Going upstairs we have guest room number one. This is where most visitors stay. We put in new wood floors for this room. 

And guest room number 2. This is the room that has the most work left. We had a bit of a leak in the room this summer and need to repaint the ceiling. 

We haven't gotten the wall paper off. And there needs some patching where we pulled out some built in shelves. We could finish the floors with the shelves. 

There is one full bathroom upstairs. It is insanely big from one side to the next and we are thinking about how to better use the space. 

Forgive the mess of our bedroom.  There is always stuff on the bed. We were in the midst of packing and clothes were spread out. 

From the other side we have our bathroom and dressers. I really hate those shades but am waiting until the windows are done to get something more permanent. 

Across from our room is what we call the closet room. It is the smallest room upstairs but only because there is a huge cedar closet.  It is about 3 feet deep and 9 feet wide. 

Right now Mr. J uses it as a dressing room, man cave and I have a small desk.   I am not sure how this room will end up. It would be a nice size if the closet shrinks to a more normal size. 

And that is all. I hope to have a bit more frequent postings. I did document some before and afters of the projects we have completed thus far and of course we have plenty more to come. 

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